Cubs Drop Angels at Fitch Park
Logan Watkins had three hits and scored twice, leading the EXST Cubs to an 8-3 victory over the EXST Angels in a pre-planned ten-inning Extended Spring Training game at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in hot & sunny Mesa, AZ.
Now 19, Watkins was the Cubs 21st round pick in the 2008 draft out of Goddard HS (Goddard, KS), where he starred on both the football team (played QB) and baseball team (played SS), and the Cubs were able to convince him to give up his baseball scholarship to Wichita State only because they offered him "3rd round money" to turn pro.
While the left-handed hitting and right-handed throwing Watkins has played SS, 2B, LF, and CF since signing with the Cubs, he appears to be the protypical second-baseman, with a strong and accurate arm, but with an almost sidearm arm slot, perfect for slinging the ball to 1st base while straddling 2nd base as the middle-man in a DP.
The extra inning was added to the game to allow Cubs and Angels pitchers to get extra work, since weekly EXST "Camp Day" intrasquad games are no longer being scheduled.
Also, it turns out Iowa Cubs RHP Justin Berg (on the DL with a right shoulder strain since mid-April) did not leave town yesterday. He is still at EXST, rehabbing his shoulder, and in fact he pitched another inning today (24 pitches), as a follow-up to his one-inning (16 pitches) of work at Papago Park in Phoenix on Thursday. Berg got ground balls with his hard-sinker again today (per usual), but his command was off, resulting in him allowing two runs on two hits and a walk in 2/3 of an inning (and the inning was terminated with only two outs when Berg reached his proscribed pitch count).
While the Cubs were battling the Angels on Field #3, RHPs Carlos Rojas and Julio Castillo faced-off in a two-inning simulated game on Field #2, facing Jose Valdez, Sean Williams, Jesus Morelli, and Jericho Jones,
Castillo (AKA "Animal") is from the back jungles of the Dominican Republic (near the border with Haiti), and he is a legend among Cubs minor leaguers as the guy who captured a wild desert rat at the Padres minor league facility in Peoria, Arizona, a couple of years ago, and then kept the rodent as a pet for the summer while he pitched for the AZL Cubs.
Presently on the Restricted List while awaiting final disposition of criminal charges filed against him in Ohio as the result of throwing a baseball at a fan during a brawl in Dayton last August while a member of the Peoria Chiefs. Castillo is one of the hardest throwers in the Cubs system (with a fastball that routinely clocks at 95+), so the Cubs are not necessarily in a hurry to discharge Animal from the organization. He has the type of power stuff (fastball & slider) that could make him a potential big-time set-up man or closer someday (that is, as long as he isn't otherwise occupied serving a lengthy term--and throwing the 9th inning--at the Ohio State Penitentiary).
The only other item of note is that C-3B-1B-DH John Contreras is missing from camp, perhaps because he has moved up to Peoria, which has only one healthy catcher available on its roster (that one being Michael Brenly). Contreras is already 23, and he was converted to catcher this season (he still plays 3B and 1B, too, however) after leading the AZL in home runs in 2008. So he would seem to be the type of player (probably too old for Boise, but needs an opportunity to play at a higher level) who would get the call as a mid-season injury replacement in Peoria or Daytona. (Daytona catcher Robinson Chirinos has a broken hand, and so Luis Flores has been moved up from Peoria to Daytona).
Here is today's abridged box score (Cubs players only)...
1. Hak-Ju Lee, DH #1: 1-5 (1B, L-4, 4-3, F-7 DP, K - 1 R, 1 SB)
2. Matt Cerda, C-DH: 2-4 (1B, 4-3, 2B, E-3 - 1 R)
3. Jae-Hoon Ha, CF: 0-4 (6-3, E-6, 6-3, K)
4. Chris Weimer, 1B: 0-4 (L-8, P-1, L-6, K)
5. Sean Hoorelbeke, LF: 2-3 (6-3, HBP, 1B, 1B - 2 R)
6. Jose Guevara, DH-C: 0-2 (5-3, K, BB, BB - 1 R)
7. Logan Watkins, SS: 3-4 (2B, 1B, 1B, 4-3 - 2 R)
8. Kevin Soto, RF: 2-3 (6-3, 1B, HBP, 1B - 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 SB)
9. Robert Bautista, 3B: 0-4 (1-3, K, 4-3, K - 1 RBI)
10. Jose Made, 2B: 0-3 (1-3, E-4, BB, 1-3)
1. Justin Berg - 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 2/0 GO/FO, 24 pitches (16 strikes)
2. Miguel Sierra - 3.0 IP, 4 H,1 R (1 ER), 0 BB, 1 K, 2 WP, 5/3 GO/FO
3. Toby Matchulat - 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 1/2 GO/FO
4. Su-Min Jung - 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 3/3 GO/FO
5. Manolin DeLeon - 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GO/FO
1. Matt Cerda - 0-2 CS, 1 PB
2. Jose Guevara - 1-2 CS
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.
Phil, historically this front office has been patient with their prep pitchers keeping their IP low and moving them one level at a time. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, and you may not be able to formulate an opinion on this, but you've seen a lot of pitchers over the years, so...
also, after tonight's loss, STL is 13-14.
also also, the wsox are 19-8.
Win tomorrow, and the Cubs would have a 6-game lead. On May 4.
Fully agree on Addy -- hope he is our SS for a long time. I'm just surprised he has 4 errors already -- the last 2 on routine plays.
Guess how many Carlos Correa has?
I would still rather have Russell, right now, than any shortstop the team has had in many years. The future is bright enough to wear shades.
EDIT: Gonzo WOULD have been my favorite, 'cepting a certain error of a double-play ball...
Hi Phil, made it home tonight safely. Looks like Cease is getting better each outing. I see Crow did ok today too. I will be reading your write_ups everyday. Great seeing you while there!